Asthma and allergic diseases are associated with a number of biological reactions. One of these reactions is an elevated blood count of eosinophils, multifunctional leukocytes that release highly active proteins primarily to combat parasites. In a study on asthma genetics, an international consortium of scientists used this immune reaction as an easily measurable marker to elucidate the underlying disease mechanisms.
In the study, the Icelandic company Decode Genetics together with Helmholtz Zentrum München and a number of other international research institutes performed a genome-wide association scan of more than 50,000 test persons. The researchers found several sequence variants associated with asthma.
‘Two of the detected sequence variants are of significance for a biochemical pathway in the interleukin-1 cluster,’ explained Dr. Matthias Wjst, who was one of the initiators of the study at the Institute of Inhalation Biology of Helmholtz Zentrum München. This finding confirms the results of a research group at Helmholtz Zentrum München from 2004, which showed that the IL-1 gene cluster is associated with asthma.
‘We do not yet know what mechanisms underlie the effect of these sequence variants on the inflammatory cells,’ Dr. Wjst said, ‘but these findings give us new starting points for a better understanding of the various hypotheses of allergic inflammation.’
Release Date: February 10, 2009
Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health
Filed Under: Genomics/Proteomics